Health Is Only Skin Deep – The Importance of Massage for Every Age
Megan Monday articles are written by Megan Kalocinski, a Certified Nutrition and Health Coach.
I hope everyone is doing well as we get closer to officially kicking of summer here. With the days getting longer and temperatures getting hotter, this is a time of year when we usually are more active. Whether it’s running around outside in the gorgeous weather or swimming for hours on end in a pool, at the beach or a lake, we tend to exert ourselves more than usual, which can lead to some sore muscles, or even newfound injuries. Kids are not immune to this at all, and I recall therapeutic massage to be one of the best ways to heal from any injury I incurred from either swimming, rowing, or running. Injury aside, we often don’t think of massage as a customary thing for kids – rather, it seems more like an indulgent opportunity for a stressed adult who wants to escape for an hour of relaxation. While I understand at the end of the day when everyone is tired and ready for bed, giving your kids a massage may be the last thing you want to do, but it can have incredible health benefits, which ultimately make your life easier, too. Healthier kids = happier kids (and parents). One of my favorite books for kids’ health, “Perfect Health for Kids,” by Dr. John Douillard, offers some key insight into this topic, and is where I reference a majority of the information used in this article.
Believe it or not, skin dryness is one of the key indicators that a massage is needed to help the body naturally recover from an imbalance. Normally, the winter months lead to dryer skin due to lack of moisture, drier air, colder temperatures, and dietary changes. However, whether this dryness continues into the summer months or if your child’s skin is dry from the use of sunscreens, pool chlorine, beach salt, excessive sweating (salt and ammonia deposits), or dehydration, it’s important to note and take action on – and not just by slathering on moisturizer.
Dr. Douillard notes:
“What we don’t see [in dry skin] is that the deeper layers of the skin and the tissues beneath them can also become dry. Too much dryness causes the skin to lose the ability to function as an organ. When supple, moist, and in balance, the skin drains toxins and waste products efficiently into the lymphatic system, which then carries the waste away from the skin and out of the body. If the skin stops functioning, the lymphatic fluid will also stagnate and the waste will begin to back up in the skin. Along with the liver and kidneys, the skin is one of our primary organs of both processing and eliminating toxins…When the skin is supple and well-lubricated for extended periods of time, the lymphatic system moves freely, allowing the disease-fighting white blood cells of the immune system also to move freely. But, if dry skin interferes with the removal of waste products, the lymphatic fluid stagnates and the immune system becomes compromised…In kids, this usually results in a skin rash, allergic hives, or eczema.
One of the most effective ways to treat and prevent all-too-common dry skin is with a simple daily massage for your child (or self). A daily massage can lubricate both superficial and deep layers of the skin, restoring normal circulation, waste removal, and other functions.”
I know that my son loves his legs, arms, and back massaged after his bath each night. We use coconut oil or all-natural Earth Mama Angel Baby lotion. What you actually use on your child’s skin is very important, for you do not want to use anything made with synthetic ingredients, harsh ingredients, or anything that can actually cause greater issues with toxins (see my other article here). Not only is the massage routine before bed good for my son’s health, but I can honestly say, he has some of the nicest skin, which people compliment on often. I wish my skin was as soft as his. Daily massage after bath time also relaxes my son and he sleeps very well each night. We also massage our 3-month old baby, for infant massage is not only important for the reasons already mentioned, but it also stimulates their senses and helps with brain development and tactile recognition. Not to mention, it’s a nice bonding experience with your kids. Studies have shown an increase in production of growth hormones in subjects who were touched regularly compared to those who were not.
Dr. Douillard recommends the use of warm sesame or other oils on the skin for massage. Oils tend to pull impurities out of the deep layers of skin, acting as detoxifiers and allowing the skin to function effectively as an organ. Also, natural butters like shea, mango, avocado, and coconut are great for penetrating the skin into the deeper tissues to effectively moisturize all layers of the skin.
A proper massage would start with the child sitting up and beginning at the scalp, by rubbing the child’s head and then working down to the shoulders, heart, chest, and mid-back using sweeping strokes. You can then move on to the arms, hands, and fingers using circular strokes on the wrist, elbow, and shoulder joints. Finish with the hips, legs, and feet. The feet are some of the most important parts to massage, as this is where many of the nerves in the body begin and end, so massaging the feet has a calming effect on the entire nervous system.
As children get older, they can learn how to do this massage themselves, preferably with warm oil before a shower or bath. The kids can learn how to do this easily – just massaging the oil into their skin by rubbing effectively and then rinsing. The skin will remain moisturized all day and will usually not require additional oil or moisturizer. Dr. Douillard explains that this can be an awesome way for kids to learn how to start caring better for themselves and their health.
Megan Monday articles are written by Megan Kalocinski, a Certified Holistic Nutrition and Health Coach and Owner/Founder of Empower Nutrition & Health Coaching, LLC. Megan educates and empowers women, men, and children of all ages to learn the true ins-and-outs of “feeding the brain with knowledge about the best foods, products, and habits for one’s body” in order to reach optimal health and wellness potentials. Visit her website today to learn more: http://www.exponentialhealthandwellness.us or feel free to send her an e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Megan on Twitter (@MPowerNutrition) and like her on Facebook: Empower Nutrition & Health Coaching, LLC.